Hi! I’m Kitty Pittman, the Stillwater Public Library Special Collections librarian. When THINGS changed, we were working on establishing an Oklahoma themed circulating collection for our walk-in customers to checkout and browse. We shifted gears back to digital content and began increasing our online resources. 

Now more than ever, all of us are searching the internet for all types of needs and wants. Studying, reading e-books, finding ancestors and history and exploring online what we cannot explore in person. Our online archives are housed on Digital Prairie, in the “Images of Oklahoma” digital collection. This project site is a collaborative effort with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and grant participants like our library.

First, we are highlighting two Stillwater associations, the United Spanish War Veterans and the Stillwater Woman’s Club. Most of my time recently has been spent on the Woman’s Club. The Club started in 1905, and each year until 2011 they created a yearbook. The yearbooks contain their programs, a membership directory and the constitution of the organization. For example, in the 1907-08 yearbook, the subject of study was English prose writers. The literary works of William Thackeray and the quotations of Henry Edmond were on the agenda. Later that year, there was a discussion of Charles Dickens and comparison with Thackeray. These ladies were not fooling around!

During World War I and World War II, the women volunteered with the Red Cross. The Woman’s Club also founded the Stillwater Public Library in 1922 and has played a significant role in the community’s social and cultural history. Hats off to starting our public library! In the 1940s, there were violin solos, art shows, poetry readings, and programs on American Citizenship, International Relations, and Legislation. The Stillwater Woman’s Club has worked toward beautification projects at the local cemetery, giving scholarships to various people and groups, buying playground equipment for schools, promoting City-County Health facilities and numerous other charitable and community work projects. Starting in December 1961 and continuing until 1994, the “Annual Parade of Homes” was the primary source of funds for these projects.

It wasn’t all highbrow and hard work. Some of my favorite programs include the “Progressive Cosmos Luncheon,” “Possibilities of Casserole,” and “Needlework Day.” Always plenty of refreshments and conversation, possibilities and accomplishments. The digital collection is a work in progress. I started with the yearbook program booklets and meeting minutes. Then there is correspondence, guest books, scrapbooks and even a published cookbook. There isn’t any magic involved to get content online, just a lot of work from staff and volunteers. There is scanning, transcription, metadata, uploading and corrections. But what follows makes me stop and think it is all worth the effort.

Each yearbook contains a Collect (or prayer). Here’s one written by Mary Stewart in 1904 and published as “A Collect for Club Women.” I found the collect particularly resonant at this time. It has always been featured prominently in each publication. I know it was a mainstay for the members of the Stillwater Woman’s Club.

Repeated here:

CLUB WOMEN’S COLLECT

“Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking.

May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice.

Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight-forward and unafraid.

Let us take time for all things; make us grow calm, serene and gentle.

Grant that we may realize that it is the little things in life that create differences; that in the big things in life we are one.

And may we strive to touch and to know the great common woman’s heart of us all; O Lord, let us not forget to be kind.

– Mary Stewart.

 When I get to read and preserve thoughts like the one above and see the dedication and work, I am proud of collecting our history. The impact one small local association and its members had on their community is astounding and has made it a better place for all of us. 

Check out the Stillwater’s collections and many others at digitalprairie.ok.gov. Also, the Stillwater Public Library is now open to visitors with some new guidelines and procedures. Learn more at library.stillwater.org.

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